Work experience details
Organisation: Pertemps People Development Group
Contact name: Juliet Mortiss, HR Director
Placement student name: Eilish Rushworth, 2nd year Psychology BSc undergraduate
Placement title: Two week short voluntary placement
Dates of placement: Summer 2013
Nature of the business
Pertemps People Development Group are providers of Welfare to Work, training and recruitment services to an extensive number of Government and private companies across Australia and the United Kingdom.
Brief description of internship opportunity
Short voluntary placement opportunity within Pertemps People Development Group to obtain shadowing experience and observe practices from an HR perspective.
Interview with intern
Eilish Rushworth, 2nd year Psychology BSc
What made you apply for the opportunity?
I spoke to Jim at the University of Birmingham’s Career Network because I was struggling to find a placement. Jim suggested PPDG as they were a contact of the university. When I contacted PPDG they were very helpful and asked me what type of work experience I was looking for, I was able to ask them specifically for HR experience and I was also lucky that their head office was so close to where I live.
What were your preconceptions before starting the placement?
I only had a vague idea of what working in an HR environment would be like from research I had carried out on the internet. Through my placement I hoped to learn more about the specific tasks that people in HR do each day, and discover if it was a career I would like to pursue. I thought that I would be spending my time shadowing the HR staff as they carried out different tasks.
What do you hope to develop during the placement (in terms both of any specific understanding and also any employability skills that you wish to develop)?
I hoped to gain a deeper understanding of the day to day tasks carried out in HR, to see if I had the relevant skills for the job, and to see if I could develop them further.
What are / were your first impressions?
When I began my placement I was immediately made to feel comfortable by the friendly HR team. I had a meeting with the HR director who told me more about the company and about working in HR. I was also given a detailed plan of the tasks I would be doing each day, I was impressed by the wide range of tasks I would be carrying out, and I was made to feel part of the team.
Please provide an outline of your activities
Administration tasks such as writing emails to invite people to interviews, writing letters to people who had been successful/unsuccessful at an interview. Filing employees details and updating databases/spreadsheets on employees in the company
Shadowing the HR staff as they dealt with absences, maternity leave and disciplinary procedures/grievances
Attending meetings with employees in different PPDG centres who were requesting flexible working
Assisting with interviews; greeting candidates, note taking, delivering questions and discussing the outcome of the interviews
Researching salaries and creating a benchmarking spreadsheet
Please provide an overview of your progress as you have gone through the placement (what you are up to, how the tasks are going, what support you’re getting, what the rest of the office team are like)
I feel I made a lot of progress throughout my placement; I grew in confidence as I received positive feedback and was always given the opportunity to ask any questions.
Your thoughts at the end (how it went, whether it met your expectations, were your preconceptions appropriate or naïve, how it may have influenced your outlook with a view to graduate career options and working in this sector)
My placement with PPDG surpassed my expectations. Rather than just shadowing the staff I was given the opportunity to gain hands on experience, interviewing candidates and creating databases. Not only was this informative but it gave me the confidence that I was capable of pursuing a career in HR. I realised that HR involved a much wider range of tasks than I had previously believed. All in all I thoroughly enjoyed my placement with PPDG and it only confirmed to me that a career in HR is what I aspire to when I graduate.
What would you encourage any of your peers seeking similar opportunities next year to consider (in terms of application and also what to do when undertaking a placement)?
When looking for an HR (or any) placement, think outside the box in regards to who you contact about a placement. PPDG weren't actually advertising specifically for an HR placement, but when I enquired they were very responsive and organised my work experience.
When undertaking the placement I would say it is imperative to keep a diary/journal of all of the tasks you do, what it involves etc; working in HR involves a wide range of different duties day to day, and by keeping a diary I could keep track of what I had done, and it's very useful to look back on when preparing your CV.
Interview with Juliet Mortiss, PPDG’s HR Director
What was your rationale for offering a work experience placement to a University of Birmingham student?
Predominantly this was to support the development of young people, particularly within their local communities - something to which PPDG is strongly committed. We also wanted to support the careers service within the University of Birmingham. PPDG has had success previously in supporting interns and their development leading to a career with PPDG. We also believe that this is a development opportunity for our own teams in relation to their coaching and communication skills.
Please describe the process you went through to advertise and select your placement student.
Applicants were required to complete a PPDG Application form which was tailored for graduate applications. We undertook PPDG’s recruitment process to enable candidates to have exposure to a real life assessment situation. This involved an interview with competency-based questions along with a short assessment with a Senior HR Advisor and the HR Director.
What kinds of projects did your placement student work on/what duties did they perform?
Eilish shadowed established members of the HR team to give her a full overview of the various objectives and day to day tasks involved within an HR department and an HR generalist role. This included observing the HR Administrations teams and receiving an in-depth insight into the responsibilities and duties of the HR Manager and HR Director within the department. This was provided to help the intern understand the many and varied roles of an HR staff member, with a good understanding of the end to end processes for which they have responsibility. Eilish was provided with a full timetable for the three weeks of her placement with time set aside to receive insights into safeguarding, performance management and recruitment processes such as short-listing.
How did it benefit your business to take on a work experience student?
Taking on an intern provided members of the HR team with an opportunity to support a young person in understanding the elements of an HR department and also to help them utilise and develop their coaching skills and training delivery.
How well did the intern fit in with established employees?
Eilish was extremely polite, well presented and worked well within the team. Eilish was conscientious and readily accepted any task asked of her and completed promptly and accurately.
Based on your experience, what advice would you give to students or employers considering work experience placements or internships?
I would recommend that students ensure that they research the company, sector or discipline that they are considering, which will increase their confidence at interview and whilst on placement. We would recommend that employers spend some time planning what the intern will do whilst on placement. We designed a three week timetable in advance; this ensured that the HR team and Eilish had an expectation of what would be covered in her time with the HR department. It is also beneficial to the individual if they have access to any appropriate company literature or the company intranet to enable a greater understanding of how that department fits within the bigger picture and what the company’s overall objectives and vision are.
Would you recommend offering placements to University of Birmingham students to others?
Posted on Friday 22nd November 2013